Reflection and recording


It is important to remember that there is a myriad of ways in which you can prove that you are learning in CAS. Learning evidence may be copies of email communication, agendas for sessions you run, fitness programs, an intentional photo accompanied by a reflective statement, a video, an mp3 file of a reflective discussion, notes for an interaction, your ever-growing glossary of kiswahili words to help you with communication during direct service… The list goes on and on…

As an IB DP student, you have the choice to either create your own platform for documenting your CAS journey (and submit your url to ManageBac once), or simply use ManageBac as your portfolio.

All MYP students record their Service as Action journeys on ManageBac.

Written Reflection is only one form of learning evidence. But we do know that REFLECTION itself is very important and is key to meaningful experiential learning.

Fact: By actively engaging in reflection, we will become better learners.

Fact: Reflection can help us move beyond preconceived notions, cultivate empathy. and even revise our course of action so we can better serve communities.          (Shultz and Neal, NYLC)

Why are we asked to reflect on our CAS experiences?

– Reflection helps us challenge our existing assumptions in order to solve problems

– We learn through it. It is the critical activity for turning an experience into new ideas for trying out in real life situations

– It is the key for us to take control over our own learning

(taken from Reflection in Learning, A Basic Introduction)


“[CAS] incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society. Students participate in systemic varied processes that integrate empathetic response and cognitive thinking related to social issues and their lives. The affective and cognitive blend deepens the [CAS experience] as students apply and transfer new understandings of themselves, others, and the world around them.” 

So, Effective reflection is a healthy blend of responding with the heart (affective) and the mind (cognitive). It goes way beyond observation and summary.

You should be on the look out for the best time to reflect!

WHEN Reflection Matters…

when a situation seems to fly by so fast

After an aha! moment of discovery

When someone’s actions stood out

When an emotion or feeling is really powerful

When an idea or thought or question makes new sense

When learning, unlearning, and relearning has occurred

When really happy


(adapted from CBK’s Strategies for Success with 21st Century Skills)

The fundamentals of Reflection

Of any activity or CAS experience, ask the following questions:

What did I plan to do?

What did I do?

•What were the outcomes, for me, the team I was working with, and others?

But reflection is not just about thinking back. It is about thinking forward, thinking inwards and thinking outwards too.

Thinking Back

What was the original purpose of the experience?

What did I actually learn and when did the most learning occur?

Thinking Forward

If I had the chance to do this again, what changes would I make?

How might what I have learned affect my future learning decisions?

Thinking Inward

Why was the project or experience meaningful to me?

What were the highest and lowest emotional moments in my learning experience?

Thinking Outward

How am I looking at this need or topic? Can I identify another point of view?

Is my current concept about a topic causing problems for others?

Remember, different kinds of reflection work for different people. But it is important that 4 dimensions of reflection are considered as they will add to your body of knowledge about a learning experience and contribute to your general understanding of yourself as a learner and person.

Reflection can be:

public or private

•individual or shared

•objective or subjective.

• straightforward. Check out this 4 Square Reflection Tool. 

For example, in a CAS group project, the planning stages are largely public, so reflection on them can be largely public, shared and objective. The term “largely” is used because there may be individual views that arise independently, in terms of how satisfactory the process was for a particular student (who may enter and leave the activity with different personal experiences from others).

Carrying out the project is likely to be both public and private, both individual and shared, and both objective and subjective.

Outcomes of a project or other activity are similar: there may be objective successes and limitations of the activity as a whole, but what it has meant for the team and for individuals within it may be more varied.

For some students and some kinds of reflection (such as private, individual, subjective), writing is the best tool for reflection. But writing is by no means the only possible outcome of reflection. Students can present activities orally to peers, parents or outsiders. You can make scrapbooks, photo essays, video blogs, videos/DVDs, tumblrs or weblogs. You can use journals or make up varied portfolios. Or you may sometimes simply reflect privately: some of the most important lessons may be very personal ones.

 Developing reflection

Moving on from the “What …?” questions, experiential learners might consider, where appropriate, for themselves and others, and for each stage of an activity (before, during and after):

•             how they felt

•             what they perceived

•             what they thought about the activity

•             what the activity meant to them

•             what the value of the activity was

•             what they learned from the activity and how this learning (for example, a change of perspective) might apply more widely.

 Recording and reporting

 You need to document your CAS activities, noting in particular your reflections upon your experiences. This documentation may take many forms, including weblogs, illustrated displays and videos, annotated flickr albums, tumblrs, drama scripts, interviews, leaflets and written notes… There is no point in writing lengthy accounts about relatively routine experiences; the extent of your recording should match the significance of the particular activity to you. When you FEEL something special has happened, when you have a strong reaction or an ‘aha!’ moment…this is when you should reflect.

Further Evidence…

Some of the most valuable recording and reporting happens when there is a real audience and purpose*, for example, when you inform other students, parents or the wider community about what is planned or what has been achieved.

(adapted from the IB CAS handbook)

* Check out these two CAS student-produced videos made to inform potential donors about two service projects they are participating in:  CAS Evidence- PROMPT videos

And here’s another CAS youtube channel: Kariakoo Productions

What could a reflective statement on a video of me taking action look like?                Click here to find out!

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